Browsing Tag

mothering

Breastfeeding, Parenting

Dear new mummy

4 January, 2013

The baby is here! In your ams! Mewing, and pooing, and screeching, and sleeping!

You can’t stop staring at the little mite in disbelief. YOU MADE THIS! You MADE this.

You want to cry at the mystery of it all… and also the sense of doom that seems to creep in at the corners, just a little, every so often… you shed a few tears at that. You want to laugh in elation… but not too much, until you really get cracking with those pelvic floor excercises. Your heart bursts with wonder… and your mind creaks a little with fear – how can I do this? You love this baby more than anyone ever in the whole world has loved a single soul… and also not quite enough.

It is, er, an emotional business, this parenthood malarkey.

I want to tell you one thing. This one thing I’m going to tell you… it is to forget everything anyone’s ever told you. And then replace it with this:

Trust yourself and your baby.

Just have this one mantra, and repeat it to yourself everyday.

I trust myself and I trust my baby.

Carry it with you and wield it like a silent shield, if need be, in front of disapproving glances, or undermining words. When you read parenting articles announcing new research that simply doesn’t fit with the rhythm the two of you have found. When experts suggest they know the pair of you better than you know yourselves. They don’t. You are the expert, the absolute expert, when it comes to the paths you are carving out together.

Settle into these instincts, be guided by your intuition, listen to your baby.

Soon enough you will gather confidence like a warm coat around you, you will delight in the trust you have developed. You will see your baby as wise, you will let them be your teacher, your lives together will be rich and deep and joyful. They’ll be angst and emotion and teething and hormones but this trust will be the surest foundation for your every parenting action and decision.Trust yourself and trust your baby

It starts now, with breastfeeding. It takes too much teethgritting, too much patience, it is not how you imagined it to be at all! You were excited about nursing your little one, but this actually just hurts.

Just trust.

Another day, maybe one more day after that, and you will feel like all the secrets of the universe have been bestowed upon the two of you.For real. It will go from feeling as if your toe blisters are being burst with pliers to feeling like sitting on a whimsical cloud being sprinkled with magical love glitter. You’ll soon cherish these milky moments, you’ll rest in the easy, blissful breastfeeding relationship you have woven together. It is JUST around the corner.

Believe in the concrete power of your intuition and the unfathomable innate ability of children, even the very youngest ones.

Your mother instincts and your baby’s voice is the most harmonious duet. Let this song guide you.

Trust yourself and trust your baby.

Love Lucy

PS- You may know… this is a letter to my new mamma self, that one that emerged late in the evening in November 2010. It is also a reminder as I contemplate another wee one arriving in the Spring…

PPS- I am actually all for reading and talking and exploring new ideas for parenting ūüôā Books like How to Talk so Kids Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk inspire me no end. I just think it is vital first to have firm belief in your instincts and heart and what your child has to say!

If you were to write a letter to a new mum, or to your own fresh mother self, what would you say?

 

Attachment parenting, Parenting

You are the expert in the topic of your children

24 June, 2012

We have just come through a week of pretty angsty bed times. Some nights Ramona took a whole 1.5 hours to get to sleep. Even though we are just reading, nursing, singing and I should be able to think wonderful pleasant thoughts about spending all that extra time with my tiny delight, I don’t. I just get a bit annoyed inside, dreaming of being able to go downstairs and read without having a full-of-life¬† toddler flickering about around me.

And then, as quickly as the Bedtimes of Terror period began, it stopped. It stopped because I began trusting myself again.

You see, a week ago I read on a blog that I had been lurking on a bit (a blog that really resonated with me about lots of mothering practice) about children’s sleep. Sleep is always the thing that makes me a jittery mother – when Ramona was a baby I spent hours a week, it seemed, googling topics to make sure she was getting enough (or not too much!) After many months we settled into a pattern I was comfortable with and I stopped my obsession. Then I read a bit on that there blog about how crucial toddler sleep is, and how tots MUST go to bed before 7pm.¬† I was a bit stunned. 7pm? So certain? Just like that?¬† But she mentioned “circadian rhythm” with real conviction- I don’t know what this is but it seemed to be about syncing with the earth, which, y’know,¬† I am all for.

Now, Ramona tends to go to sleep between 8 and 9, unless she is sleepy earlier. What a TERRIBLE MOTHER! That night I vowed to give her the opportunity to sleep at 7pm. It didn’t go down too well with her but still, for the following 6 nights I tried every trick in The Book to convince her that 7pm was the right, circadian time for her to go to bed.

Every evening after she finally nodded off I’d come down, Battle Weary (a loving, cuddly one but a wrestle of wills all the same) and annoyed at having frittered so much time away upstairs.

It took six days for me to regain trust in my parenting. Six days for me to realise that the sleep pattern we had woven for ourselves was the right one, despite what other mothers do and the experts say.  Six days to sod the Circadian shizzle.

See, when it comes to Ramona, no-one is more expert than me.

And when it comes to your child, you are the know-it-all; the person most in tune with his rhythms, the detector of her subtle signs, his soul-whisperer.

Childhood charts and sleep guidelines and “Musts” and “Ten Signs of” may be helpful for some – I am sure. But for others of us they undermine what we have come to understand of ourselves, our children, and our ways. When I read that Ramona is just under the “normal amount of sleep for an 18 m old” I am wracked with guilt, especially when it is followed up with facts about how vital sleep is for development. But then I take a moment to look at my daughter and see her joy, her exuberance, her calm, her growth and¬† I feel okay about it all again.
When I trust that she will sleep when she needs it and eat when she is hungry, our lives have a certain flow and a tangible ease.  (My role is to provide the right conditions for these things to happen, of course,  but I need to trust her to take the bite or rest her head.)   I also need to trust myself as a mother, trust my intuition and my instincts and trust my ability to interpret my daughter and muddle through our own path.

Sometimes when I read the stories and tips and facts about others I find all of this trust just eroding a little bit. If you are like me in this, I just want to say it again:

You and your child are the best experts in all of this. You are the same flesh and blood, and your hearts beat to the same rhythm. Embrace the fluidity of your lives – don’t hide it or be ashamed- too soon they will have boring meetings to arrive promptly at and all the Schedules of Adulthood.¬† Feel the freedom of knowing trust in each other, to be guided by each other. Not a soul on earth knows¬† or loves your child more than you. And that is just how you roll.

Right, this is me using all of my blogger’s monthly entitlement for cheeseball posts.¬† Please forgive me, I was just really feeling this today.

Attachment parenting, Parenting

Golden Rule for Mothering

6 February, 2012

We got on the bus, both of us exhausted. As I slumped into a seat Ramona decided she wanted to have a little trundle around the lurching vehicle. Thinking that wasn’t the greatest plan I popped her on my lap. In turn, Ramona thought that idea was right up there with the worst of them and promptly decided to let the bus know it. She opened her mouth and ROARED. She turned purple and arched her back. She even started wacking her head on the window. I was pretty embarrassed to say the least,¬† and began a fairly typical reaction; I laughed with an “Oh, Really?!” and almost rolled my eyes towards other passengers. Fortunately I stopped myself just in time and tried to pull out from the depths of my harrassed mind a better, more respectful way of responding to my daughters angst.

Above her screaming I tried to catch her eye and validate with my voice; “I see you are so angry because you wanted to walk around the bus. It is okay to be angry. I understand that it is frustrating to not be able to go wherever you want to go.”

I could almost hear the inward collective groan of everyone on board. (And honestly? Pre -Ramona? I soooo would have been inwardly, collectively, groaning.)

I am always surprised by how easy I find it to treat Ramona as a non-person, as if her supersized feelings are minor, as tiny as she is. I want to laugh off those times her feelings are so big it makes her bang her tummy with her hands like Tarzan. Rather than help her deal with how cross she is that I dare put a cardigan on her.

I go through my life trying to treat others how I would like to be treated. This guides me in loads of facets of my life – in my work, my relationships, even my consumption.I fail constantly, of course. But it is my aim.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

(It has a ring to it, eh? I think it could catch on. I might get some World Religions involved with that one.)

And it is how I am trying to mother Ramona. To listen to her as I would want to be listened to, to respect her needs in the way I respect my own needs, to not force her to do things simply because I want her to do that/ go there/ come here.

I think I am just on the cusp of really needing to do this. Only in the last few months has Ramona expressed a will which doesn’t always match my own. Public meltdowns have just happened a couple of times so far in her 15 months (far more in my own three decades.) I know the coming few years will be quite tiring and will contain a few frustrations. I know that the parents that yell/manipulate/make fun of their kids wake up only with a heart filled with love for them but weariness¬† has left them frazzled.

Which is why I have got to start practicing this. So that when a potential head butting situation arises (Ramona’s vs my own, or a window) my first response is to act in understanding, kindness, gentleness – the way I hope people will respond to me when I next get chest beatingly cross. (Really, I don’t know WHERE she gets it from.)

Emerging Mummy is holding a marvellous carnival of “Practices of Mothering”. I have blogged about those very practical practices like cosleeping, babywearing, breastfeeding, breastfeeding while babywearing (bahaha) but this got me thinking more about those intangible practices – my mothering ethos. I’m hoping to post a few more over the next wee while.

It would be lovely if you could share some of your own Practices of Mothering too…

Parenting

My whole heart just walking around out there

22 January, 2012

I read this quote today (Elisabeth Stone? But who really knows who says anything these days, eh?)

I know that it is completely and utterly cheeseballs, but it sums up exactly how I feel about Ramona. It is like becoming a mother just tore my whole soul open, made my feelings raw. To hear her laugh means heart exploding joy.  And heart aching sadness when her snot and tears dampen my shoulder.

I’m just going to crunch up her happy little self right now.

This picture is Tim and Ramona on Cooks Beach, New Zealand. Fish n chips, sand castles, ice cream. (All gave Ramona equal eating pleasure.) Lush memories.

Parenting

Vandalism for my daughter’s sake

15 September, 2011

I was sitting on the train today and scoped out the poster above my head for a leading political rag. The cartoon depicted a husband reading a business paper and the wife in the doorway heaving in a load of shopping. My blood boiled, I grabbed a pen and in full view of the packed carriage scrawled “for the everyday male chauvinist” under the title. A second later I wished I had written “The 1950’s called; they want their sexist sterotypes back” but I didn’t have any Tippex on me.

It has been a while since I have taken any direct action in the name of gender equality. The last time was at the Salvation Army Headquarters in New Zealand when I took down the framed photo of William Booth above the plaque “Founder of the Salvation Army” and replaced it with Catherine and William- for she is the oft overlooked brains behind the outfit. That was really quite tame and courteous and about 6 years ago.

But since becoming a mother I have seen the world with fresh eyes, and Ramona is growing up in place with more limitations and adverse expectations due to gender then I was, that is for sure.

It’s in the quite superficial things – when I was a kid, everyone wore brown and orange, nowadays you have to work really hard to find colours other than pink and blue and shapes other than butterflies and tractors (and flipping heck, Ramona would look brilliant in a little brown and orange number.)¬† But also in the wider story -when my mother was bringing me up she had a consciousness about gender inequality, it was a fight being fought. Now we say we are “post feminist” and to oppose porn or point out subtle sexist messaging is to be too prim or politically correct. And then there is the not so subtle messaging – one of the UK’s biggest menswear shops, Topman, bringing out some completely misogynous¬† tee shirts– and the chorus of “Why all the fuss? We are post-feminist!” greeting the initial furor (Even the comments on that incredible Guardian piece reveal this – mostly arguing about whether the slogans were funny or not. WHAT THE HELL?)

I don’t know if it was the Topman t-shirts story knocking around my head or the fact that I am reading Female Chauvinist Pigs that moved my anger at that poster into action but I know that I vandalised it for Ramona’s sake.¬† (Ramona made me do it!) I don’t want Ramona to grow up thinking that women shop and men read buisness newspapers; I want Ramona to have a host of female role models in politics or the engineering industry,¬† to be able to walk around without feeling that her body is a commodity, to get paid as much as her male counterparts. It is great that the Topman story went big but there are a million everyday things that don’t even get addressed at all that make all those things much less likely to become a reality in her lifetime.

So this is me now –¬† never without a big black marker pen (and a bottle of Tippex for those moments when the wit arrives too late) to start addressing those little things. Any other mothers out there want to unleash your inner vandal?

Attachment parenting, Babywearing, Breastfeeding

Shakeaway: breast milk to go

7 September, 2011

Once when Ramona was around 2 months I was walking along our road carrying her in the sling.¬† Some boys spotted me from their perch up in a block of flats and started hurling down meanness, although all I could really make out was the word “BREASTFEEDING!!!” screamed in a kind of offensive way. (The fact that this is a diss is worth a whole politics-of breastfeeding-rant in itself.) I was utterly mortified! “They must think I am breastfeeding her while I am walking along!” I put my head down and blushed to match my hair, feeling like my little freckly 9 year old self who got bullied in the playground. Then when I got to the end of the road I almost stopped in my tracks; what a bloody good idea. Of course I could breastfeed her in the sling!

The next time I was walking along and Ramona began her hungry headbutting I unhooked my bra and shuffled her around a bit;  she latched on immediately. That day a whole new sphere of stress free parenting opened up.

No more panick stations as I try and find a suitable place to feed her- with her nursing in the sling we can be wandering around the supermarket, a Parisian flea market or an  art gallery and no one is none the wiser. Well. Apart from the growling.

No more missing the train because I had to get a feed in before leaving the house. She just snacks on the walk up.

I feel it has helped build her security as she knows the instant she has a need it will be met, wherever we are – no crying involved. I love that science shows that meeting baby’s need quickly is vital to their development and nurtures things like their empathy cells. (Read more about that in my fave parenting book- it is the shizzle.)

If I ever want her to start a nap quickly (say because I have a meeting that it would be handy for her to sleep through) I just feed her off to sleep in the sling on the way. It often sends her to sleep within moments.

Around the three¬† month mark Ramona got way too distracted by goings on to breastfeed in public.Then she’d get all hungry and mad. However feeding in the sling helps her feel still involved somehow, avoiding what felt like miniture nursing strikes.

Perhaps best for those early days though was for the occasions when Ramona was incolsolable. They didn’t happen much but sometimes she wouldn’t feed or sleep even though I knew she was hungry and tired. As soon as I learnt to double them up she would settle really quickly. It was as if she needed movement to feed, or perhaps she wanted to feed upright.

I only wish I could have discovered it sooner.

So to those lads on the estate I will be forever indebted, for Ramona’s food on the hoof has made my life as a mother a lot easier. So much easier I would rank it in my top five mothering activities (I know, I’m a total expert after nine whole months.) I should really make those badasses some breast milk ice cream as a grateful treat.

In case your baby wants shakeaways…TIPS:

Feeding in a mei tai, ring sling or wrap is simple. Just tie it so their mouth is about level, although you may have to use your hand to hold either their head or your breast in place as they feed.

Where easy clothes, a low sccop or v-neck so you aren’t trying to yank up your top between your tummies.

Practice at home so you can get the hang of it.

Flick the end of the wrap over the top if you feel you have too much on show.

Beware of strangers coming in for a peek of your baby’s smile only to get that smile, dripping with milk, AND an eyeful of squirting nipple.